Farmers urged to tag calves and submit lab samples promptly

Farmers should make it a New Year’s resolution to tag calves and submit lab samples in a prompt and timely manner, states Animal Health Ireland.

Having achieved very impressive bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) control statistics for 2013, AHI is urging farmers to maintain their high standards in advance of the 2014 calving season.

AHI chief executive Joe O’Flaherty said: “The implementation group is very satisfied with the outcomes of the programme this year. Irish farmers have more than played their part in making this programme a success by investing financially and otherwise in BVD eradication and by complying with the programme requirements.”

Headline figures for the 2013 BVD eradication programme include: 0.68% of calves tested were persistently infected (PI); 11% of herds had one or more positive or inconclusive results; most of these herds had no more than one or two PI animals; 6.7% of PI calves had a PI dam; the remainder were born as PIs due to infection of their dams in early pregnancy. More than 9,000 PIs identified in 2013 are now dead, but 3% of herds have retained PIs.

Mr O’Flaherty added: “While the 3% of herds nationally that have a PI on their farm are naturally a cause for concern, and while we will be making efforts on a number of fronts to encourage these farmers to cull these animals, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that over 9,000 calves born in 2013 have now been removed and that the movement of those that remain alive is restricted to the farm on which they were identified.”

Mr O’Flaherty said farmers need to be aware of the possible consequences of keeping a PI on the farm. These include increased infertility and general animal health problems, a greater risk of PIs being born in 2014, prolonged tissue testing, and the risk of introducing infection into neighbouring herds. By removing PIs promptly, these problems can be avoided.

AHI is urging farmers to tag calves and submit samples to a designated laboratory in a prompt and timely manner. Farmers should also ensure the correct €1.05 postage fee is applied; this should be sufficient for up to ten flat-packed samples.

Farmers are urged to cull PI animals as soon as they are identified. AHI also suggests farmers take follow-up confirmatory tests (blood sample or tissue tag) three weeks after taking a first positive sample. If the status of the dams of these calves is unknown, they should be sampled too.

A veterinary practitioner should be consulted about further herd investigation to make sure that any other PI animals are identified and removed without delay.

Contact BVD Helpdesk on 076 1064590 for advice. <


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